Flight attendant trainee suing Qantas for failure to provide shrink

So, you’re new on the job. In fact, your title still has “trainee” in it. And then something goes wrong. That’s enough to make you go home, pop the cork on a bottle of wine and lament the fact that you work for a third world company. Now, imagine the whole thing happening 30,000 feet from the ground. Yeah, it sucks. You need more than a bottle of wine to take the edge off at that point. In fact, there’s probably a good chance you’d want some counseling.

Well, that’s exactly what Jessie Holgersson wanted, and she doesn’t feel she got it fast enough.

According to AM, an ABC morning show in Australia, Holgersson, a flight attendant on the Qantas 747 that had an engine fire, didn’t get counseling until a day after the incident. Her attorney “says that was too late and claims that Miss Holgersson was discriminated against for raising safety concerns about the airline’s lack of care.” Yeah … lawyer. Discrimination. Do the math: Holgerrson is suing.

Says Holgersson:

I was on my second training flight, we’d just flown from Sydney to Singapore, and everything went great on that flight and we had a nice day in Singapore and then we were heading back home and everything seemed normal and fine and about sort of six minutes after take-off we had an incident with our engine nut blew out.

She adds that “afterwards we were told that it was a fairly normal occurrence and these things can happen and, you know, not to worry about it too much.”

To make matters worse, according to AM, “The trainee was not given a permanent job.”

Qantas says through a spokeswoman that “Miss Holgersson was being assessed for possible employment by a UK cabin crew subsidiary at the time of the flight, with any position to be based out of London.” The company cites her behavior in training as the reason it didn’t offer her a position – and that she didn’t want to work out of the UK.

As to the claim that the flight attendants weren’t provided with counseling, Qantas says that it provided immediate and appropriate support.

[photo by Skazama via Flickr]

Delta sued over alleged false advertising on price guarantees

Delta is headed to court over its claims of providing the best fare every day. Normally, this sort of advertising bravado wouldn’t lead to litigation, but the person buying the ticket happened to be Robert Izard … the “Izard” in law firm Izard Nobel LLP.

When Izard’s wife, Susan, sought a ticket to Israel on Delta, she was told the best rate for business class was more than $3,000 – if she paid for coach and used miles to upgrade. Her husband spent $300 to transfer enough miles to her SkyMiles account, adding to the tally.

What happened next is a lesson in “loose lips.”

After transferring the miles, Susan pushed a little harder on the phone to find out if she truly got the best deal. According to CTWatchdog.com (on which Izard’s firm advertises), the rep “finally conceded” that buying a business class ticket without any mileage games would have cost only $2,692.69, with all taxes included.
The report continues:

“Defendant’s representation that the economy class ticket at a cost of over $3,000 was “Today’s Best Guaranteed Fare” was false and misleading,” says the suit.

While the suit does not seek class action status, Wayne Boulton, an attorney with the West Hartford firm who actually filed the suit, said it could be changed if the firm discovers that others were also not provided with the best price of the day by Delta.

So, what’s next? A lawsuit signaling a decline in customer service when the price of oil climbs?

[photo by cliff1066 via Flickr]

Hotels sued for enabling peeping tom

ESPN sportscaster (and third place winner of Dancing with the Stars) Erin Andrews has filed a civil lawsuit for $1.2 million against seven hotels (including both Marriott and Radisson) for negligence, invasion of privacy, and emotional distress as they enabled an ambitious peeping tom to film her naked.

Illinois insurance salesman (creepy!) Michael David Barrett stalked Ms. Andrews as she traveled the country, learning which hotels the reporter was staying in–as well as her room number–from hotel staff. Barrett would then check into the adjacent hotel room and alter Andrews’ peephole in order to film her naked and distribute the clips on the internet. He has since been charged, found guilty of interstate stalking, and sentenced to more than two years in jail.

Typically, hotels brandish non-disclosure agreements and front desk employees will refuse to give out names or room numbers of guests. Andrews says she is suing the hotels “for making my most personal moments public.” The hotels named in the suit include the florid Marriott Nashville at Vanderbilt University, the Radisson hotel in Milwaukee, and an another unnamed hotel in Columbus, Ohio. Regardless of the success of the case, the hubbub is likely to increase enforcement of privacy policies at such middle-rate hotels.

Until that day, here’s a small travel tip for hotel guests: if you don’t want people peeking into your room, cover the peephole with a piece of tape, a wad of used chewing gum, a clump or wet tissue, a post-it note covering the peephole, or whatever. It’s that simple.

For further reading, check Robert K. Cole’s excellent analysis of this situation.

(Photo: Flickr/Steve Garfield)

Don’t Park in Austin: a long-winded travel tale with a moral at the end

I try so hard to love Austin, really, but Austin doesn’t make it easy.

Yeah, I had so much fun there, what a cool city, it’s not like the rest of Texas, blah, blah, blah. Doesn’t matter. In life, bad memories so quickly suffocate the good ones, like a python squeezing the life out of some innocent Bambi lookalike. Bambi’s not what we remember–we remember the python . . .

When Gadling decided to hold our annual get-together deep in the heart of Texas, I was elated. For one, I’m Texan, born and bred. I planned on flying to Houston, spending some time with family, then heading up to Austin for a weekend of blogger decadence. I drove my parents’ car up and made it all the way to tiny Bastrop, Texas when my vehicle overheated (it’s darn hot in Texas). A mechanic in town said he would fix the car but that it would take the whole weekend. Luckily, this tiny Texas town had an Enterprise Rental with one last remaining rental car which allowed me to be back on the road to Austin within the hour.

Our first day in Austin was super fun as I met all the legendary magicians behind this fabulous website that you know and love. On Saturday night, the fun-loving Gadling crew went out for dinner and settled on Ironworks BBQ, which claims to be “Real Texas Barbecue.” I parked in their parking lot which had a sign that read “For Ironworks customers ONLY”, which we all were. We spent about two hours at the restaurant and probably around $300 on food collectively. Afterwords, we hit one of the nearby clubs. When I came back to the get the car (around midnight), the parking lot was empty. Apparently, once the restaurant closes, they tow. (Really? That’s how you treat your out-of-town guests?)
Now, what in the world could possibly be worse than getting your car towed? Getting towed by J&J Towing–that’s what. Apparently even weird cool hipster Austin has its share of sheisters and they all work for J&J Towing. Thanks to the internet, I discovered that J&J Towing actually has a long and strong reputation for illegal tows for which they’ve been successfully sued in several courts of law in Texas. They’ve even earned a single brave star on Yelp with the best review being “These People Need Jesus”.

I concur. These people do need Jesus, but a simple conscious would also suffice. At 1 AM, I called them up to retrieve my car. Not only were they rather rude and unhelpful, all they told me that there was, “No way you’re getting your car back this weekend.” Since I was driving a rental car, the towing company requires a notarized affidavit from my rental car company stating that the car was in fact in my name at the time of getting towed. This is a new state-wide law in Texas, according to Justin, the man I was speaking with (Justin refused to give me his last name for fear that I would send some Texas-style justice in his direction and perhaps he was right).

Realizing I was now legally liable but legally powerless, I turned to Enterprise Rental for help. I called their Roadside Assistance number, waited through 10 minutes of hold advertising and then was told by a bored employee that there was nothing she could do. And then (I kid you not) . . she hung up on me (Gasp!). Now a little angry, I then called the Customer Service line, held for another ten minutes and was told again that there was nothing they could do for me. When I asked, “That’s the best you can offer me?”, she hung up on me, too. No she didn’t!

I fell asleep angry and powerless at 3 AM, then woke up at 6:30 AM and contacted the Enterprise Rental at the Austin airport (the closest office that was open on a Sunday). I then took a cab out to the airport, handed over my first rental keys and convinced them to give me a new car for the duration of my rental. They agreed that getting a notarized affidavit on a Sunday in Texas was impossible but that it was now their problem and that this kind of thing happens “all the time.” Yes,you heard it from Enterprise: rental cars in Austin get towed all the time and are never successfully recovered by their renters.

By 11 AM on Sunday, I was situated with my third car in two days and left the final throes of Gadling’s fun-filled weekend for another day of work just north of the city. The next day, Monday, I returned my second rental car to the office in Bastrop where I discovered that my first rental car had still not been recovered. I was charged $280.00 for the towing and impound but promised that there would be no further related expenses. Enterprise confessed that they too were having a very difficult time retrieving the car from J&J Towing and that it might take days more, if not the rest of the week.

In retrospect, seeing as I had purchased full insurance on the rental car, I should have just reported the car stolen, which is actually kind of what happened. If you park in the parking lot of the establishment at which you are eating and when you come back you find the car is gone, then your car was stolen.

Now there’s a Texas way to deal with this situation and there’s the nicer way. Since, I’m a nice guy, I’m sticking to words. Frankly though, y’all disappointed me! City of Austin–you fail. Ironworks BBQ? You fail, too. And Enterprise Rental? You get a D minus (have fun getting your car back). As for J&J towing, I leave you to your own heavy stack of karma. I imagine when you eventually do get served, it’ll look something like No Country for Old Men and the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The travel moral of the story is don’t park your rental car in downtown Austin, ever. Better yet, just skip Austin and head straight to the Hill Country. They can’t tow you out there and if they try, you’re legally allowed to shoot them. The other moral of the story is that the state of Texas has a bunch of cockamamie laws regarding rental cars, so watch out!

The final moral of the story is: Don’t Mess With Gadling! Just like you don’t mess with Texas, you don’t mess with a bunch of travel writers. We may be limp-wristed computer nerds with passports, but these days, the keyboard is mightier than the tow truck.

*The real casualty in all of this was Mike Barish’s Hello Kitty piñata, who at this very moment is still sitting locked up in the scuzzy backlot of J&J towing and enduring who knows what kind of hellish torments.

Man sues Canadian airline because they refused to look at his penis

When Marcel Cote was in his Air Transat seat back in February 2008, he felt some discomfort “in the area between his legs”. He went to the washroom and noticed he was bleeding from his genitals.

He then asked a female flight attendant to send one of her male colleagues, and asked him to examine his bleeding penis.

As can be expected, the flight attendant refused, and handed him some absorbent paper instead. Upon landing, Mr. Cote was transferred to a local hospital, where doctors determined he had a ruptured vein.

Apparently, not having your genitals examined by a flight attendant is enough to sue the airline. Never mind that the flight crew is not trained to perform medical inspections, Mr. Cote claims the incident turned his vacation into a nightmare, and demanded $8,000 (CAD) for the “anguish” he suffered.

Thankfully, the Canadian judge rejected the case, issuing the following statement:

“It was not incumbent upon a flight attendant to conduct the medical examination of a passenger, a measure reserved for the medical profession,”

The judge didn’t deny that Mr. Cote was in some kind of discomfort, but she also maintained that his discomfort did not appear to be a life threatening situation.